Another day, another niche filled. On the wall of the BMW product planning office, the big chart – whose boxes are arranged by vehicle size along one axis and body styles along the other axis – gets another tick.

This time, the fat marker pen signifies the arrival of a car that is roughly the same length as a BMW X3 or BMW 3-series but has the benefit of being both a 4x4 and, of a fashion, a coupé.

How much benefit that provides is what we are here to discover. The new car is the X4 and it’s arriving in the UK now in a range that is composed entirely of four-wheel-drive powertrains and diesel engines.

There is no direct predecessor to the X4, but BMW has had a decent recent history with SUVs. That began with the X5 in 1999, at a time when BMW also owned Land Rover, perhaps proving to itself that there was plenty of room for more than one premium large SUV in the group’s line-up.

An X3 duly followed, and then the X6 and X1. The reasons for the X4’s creation is several-fold, but chief among them, we suspect, is a machine called the Porsche Macan. The Macan’s underpinnings have some cross-group architecture but it is a deal more svelte and dynamic than the Audi Q5 from which it is ostensibly derived.

Hence the X4, which is underpinned by BMW’s own X3 but aims to do a similar job to the Porsche in being more dynamic than other vehicles in the range. Let’s see if it can achieve that aim.

Top 5 Sports SUVs

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Car review
    21 October 2016
    The last hurrah for the current Aston Martin Vantage adds the track-ready GT8 to the range
  • Audi S5 Sportback
    First Drive
    20 October 2016
    New S5 Sportback is more spacious, better to drive and offers a calmer ride than before, but rivals offer greater involvement
  • Renault Clio RS 220 Trophy
    First Drive
    19 October 2016
    Mildly revised hot hatch is enjoyable on UK roads but continues to play second fiddle to the Ford Fiesta ST
  • 2016 Smart fortwo Brabus cabrio xclusive
    First Drive
    18 October 2016
    Mechanical upgrades make the Smart Fortwo Brabus cabrio better to drive, but it’s too pricey to recommend
  • Citroen C3 1.2 Puretech 82
    First Drive
    14 October 2016
    Not a class leader objectively, but the C3's funky good looks and a swish interior give it subjective appeal. Needs the more powerful petrol, though